When was the last time you really sat down and looked at the ‘bones’ of your course?
Course outcomes form the backbone of a course – telling us what students should be able to do by the end of the term. All content, assignments, assessments and other activities should support the course outcomes. We call this concept alignment. According to the Quality Matters rubric, a national benchmark for online course design, alignment is defined as “the critical course elements working together to ensure that students achieve the desired learning outcomes.” Reviewing the alignment, or lack of, within your course can help you identify areas for future improvement.
A course-planning chart is a tool that you can use to begin examining the alignment of the elements in your course. It can help you identify orphan content or activities that do not support a corresponding learning outcome – or if there are learning outcomes that lack associated activities. It is also useful in determining if there is a good mix of activities to engage students and whether the course meets workload requirements for a class.
Sketching out how all of the elements of your course align with each other is a good first step in identifying where you can strengthen your course.